LandViewer pegs 2013 corn crop at 12.69 billion bushels

By Susanne Retka Schill | September 10, 2013

The team with Genscape LandViewer held to its corn forecast of a month ago projecting a 12.69 billion bushel crop with an average yield of 141.8 bushels per acre – a number that is lower than most analysts’ predictions as of late August and early September. The LandViewer team held a roundtable call Sept. 10 with subscribers of its new service to provide county-level crop development reports to ethanol producers. 

“This time of year, we’d expect to do a windshield assessment of a rapidly maturing crop,” cofounder Steffen Mueller, an expert in agriculture modeling at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Instead, the extremely late corn planting in many areas, coupled with recent heat and dryness is creating far more uncertainty than normal in early September. The biggest problem that modelers have is in accounting for extreme weather events such as record heavy rains or record dry August weather. The strength of the LandViewer model, he explained, “is it’s a continuous process, with ground data and statistical modeling.”

“In general, our observation is there have some shifts on state level, but on a national level it’s consistent,” Mueller said. “We’re seeing 12.69 billion bushels on 89,523 million acres harvested.” He added that the harvested acres number is based upon satellite data, and not on USDA’s preliminary numbers. “There’s going to be ample corn available,” he added. “We have to keep this in mind.”

In all, the LandViewer model analyzes 27 variables in 1,100 corn counties across the U.S., comparing the past six years of data. One of the advantages, Mueller said, is that LandViewer’s projections are reported monthly during the summer at the national, state and county level, while USDA’s state and county level data is not available until several months after harvest. Ethanol producer subscribers receive county-level data in their corn draw following the monthly call that covers the national and state-level projections.

The LandViewer team reviewed its forecasts for the top corn-producing states in the September call as follows:

-Illinois is bouncing back with a 60 percent increase from last year’s drought-reduced crop. It should come in as the No. 1 corn producing state this year with a projected yield of 166.7 bushels per acre and just under 2 billion bushels of supply.

-Minnesota will have a respectable year, in spite of late planting, and is projected to average a 145.8 bushel per acre yield for a total of 1.176 billion bushels.

-Nebraska’s corn yield is forecast to average 149.3 bushels per acre for a 1.278 billion bushel crop.

-Indiana is likely to see its second best crop in the past seven years with a forecast yield of 168.4 bushels per acre and 951 million bushels.

-Ohio is likely to see an above average crop at 154.5 bushels per acre and a total of 559 million bushels.

-Wisconsin will see its best crop in the past seven years, due to better yield and more acres. LandViewer forecasts it at 154.9 bushels per acre for a total of 559 million bushels.

-Iowa, usually the nation’s top corn-producing state, is having another challenging year. The LandViewer model’s prediction puts the yield at 136.0 bushels per acre, slightly under last year’s 136.7 bushel per acre yield, for a total of 1.746 billion bushels, down 100 million bushels from a year ago. Of the 99 Iowa counties modeled, 64 had August precipitation amounts this year that were below last year.